Arriving in Kampala, Uganda with Africa Adventure Safaris

Side Streets Outside of Kampala, Uganda

6 wild days in Uganda with Africa Adventure Safaris was the plan. My schedule included chimpanzee tracking in Kibale Forest National Park, a boat cruise in Queen Elizabeth National Park rewarding me with game sightings such as hippos, crocodiles, elephants, and buffalo, a tree-climbing lion safari in Bwindi Forest National Park, and gorilla trekking in Bwindi National Park. It all sounds made up, right? Well the actual experience was even more amazing and bizarre then it sounds. It all started with my arrival in Kampala.

When I stepped out of the airport, I was greeted by my guide, who was also my driver. He was my contact from Africa Adventure Safaris and my friend for the next 6 days in Uganda.

Traffic in Kampala, Uganda

As we made our way toward Kampala, I was immediately intimidated by the sheer number of people that live everywhere in Uganda. To say that the streets are packed is a hyperbole. There are some cars and trucks, but there are mostly public transportation vans and motorcycles. The public transportation vans stop in the middle of the road or wherever they like. They charge whatever they want and they are jam packed with commuters. The motorcyclists are, from what I could understand, called “boarder-boarders”. They weave in and out of traffic utilizing the side of the road, the ditch, and anywhere else they can fit a motorcycle. Sometimes they are carrying one person; sometimes they are carrying several including small children and large adults. Some women in skirts ride side saddle and some women are carrying newborns. They don’t always carry people either. I saw several stacked at least five feet high with water jugs and others with massive bags of coal. I even saw one stopped on the side of the road as the driver and the passenger tried to get a pig on the seat. I don’t know if they were successful. There are also hundreds of people walking on the road and to the side as well. The move around the traffic like bees around flowers. Just getting to the first hotel was an adventure.

Nexus Resort in Kampala, Uganda

The driver delivered me to my accommodations, Nexus Resort, for the night. He chatted with the front desk employee and made sure I was ok before leaving me for the night. Located just outside of Kampala’s city center in Nansana, it wasn’t as packed as downtown. My room was located in the second floor and it was peaceful and clean.

Dinner was on my own, at least it was supposed to be. I met a local lady who joined me for my meal. We talked for almost an hour and then she asked if I wanted a tour of the community. I was hesitant at first. I was in a foreign country and I didn’t even have phone service. I tried to think about the situation rationally. I would be outdoors, lots of people were around, it was daylight, and she was well known by the employees of the hotel.

I smiled and agreed.

Near Kampala, Uganda

We set out on an hour walk of the district. The side streets were bustling with people. Shops lined the road but not like anything I’ve seen before. They were family-owned homes made into businesses. They sold clothes, convenience store items, coal, food, and possibly live chickens. It didn’t seem like anyone was in any of the buildings. Everyone was outside on their porch or near the road.

Children smiled and waved at me. They seemed surprised to see me in the street and with a local but they were friendly and curious. Adults stopped to look at me. They weren’t welcoming but they weren’t intimidating either. I felt a little bit like a circus attraction, but not scared. I said hello when someone walked by me and I waved to the children.

I already felt a sense of security in Uganda. I wasn’t discouraged from entering the shops and no one hassled me when I did. I asked about walking on my own in the area and my new friend said that it was completely safe.

She explained her take on the people of Uganda.

“The people in Uganda don’t want to just take your money. They want to do something for you and get paid in return. If someone offers to carry your bag for you, they will not run off with it. They will carry it, but they expect to get paid for the service. Usually they will tell you the price before you begin.”

It seemed too good to be true but over the next few days I learned the truth about the people of Uganda, especially when we went off the road in a mud slide. I don’t want to jump too far ahead of my story though so you’ll need to wait a few days for that post.

When we arrived back at the hotel, I was grateful for my trusting nature. I quickly fell into a deep sleep imagining my wild adventures to come.

***I was able to explore Uganda thanks to the support of Africa Adventure Safaris. Without them, this trip wouldn’t have been possible. All ideas and opinions are my own as always.***

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31 thoughts on “Arriving in Kampala, Uganda with Africa Adventure Safaris

  1. Living in Cape Town, South Africa, was similar, too. People never galloped off with my items! People offer services and expect to be paid immediately! I never had a problem in South Africa or Lesotho (the only 2 places where I’ve traveled in Africa).

    Photo #1 is incredible. I can’t wait to hear about the rest of your travels in Uganda! The colors in the sky are out of this world!

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    • Love your photos and stories. Was there for about 3 weeks 5 years ago. Did the items on your itinerary. Hope you loved it as much as I did. The children are so friendly. Was always greeted with “hello, how are you?” Guess the phrase was from their English classes. Gorillas in Bwindi were probably my favorite. Looking forward to your next post.

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        • Did visit and trek with chimps in Kibale National Park also. Chimps are fun to see, but just something special about the gorillas for me. Also boat at Queen Elizabeth. Camped at edge of Nile at Murchison Falls. Beautiful falls through narrow gorge. Different experience for me was at Jinga–source of Nile from Lake Victoria. Not sure if the dam has been built, but not when we were there, class 5 white water rafting was fabulous. Nile was warm and clean at this point. Your posts are a great way for me to relive the experiences of Uganda. Even looked at my old photos. Wonderful, friendly people in Uganda.

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      • I would love to see Victoria Falls so one of the countries that surrounds it for best viewing. I have also dreamed of South Africa. And perhaps Tanzania or another country or two best for safari/wildlife viewing. Since I am a photographer I need to take safari photos from Africa! 🙂

        Are you planning on going back soon?

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        • I did Namibia as a self-drive safari and it was an amazing experience as well. Tons of wildlife and we could travel at our own pace.

          I am seriously considering going back to east Africa, but maybe trying Rwanda or the Congo. I’m always thinking about travel though so this is nothing new 😉

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      • Yes Lesley, but the country has been through many changes since I wandered through it in a VW Bug. I did think of our trip up the Victoria Nile when you mentioned your river trip including hippos and crocodiles, however. 🙂 –Curt

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  2. I’m listening with interest Lesley – all I remember are the horror stories of Uganda when they lived under the regime of Idi Amin. So nice to hear a lighter side of these countries your visiting.

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  3. Pingback: 2015 Bucket List | Bucket List Publications

  4. I agree, before setting off on our trip, lots of people said we would be robbed and kidnapped because we were travelling slowly in rural areas but it was the opposite. Everyone we met was highly concerned for our safety. Sometimes insisting we stay in their village to be extra safe.

    Love your photo of the village.

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      • Not in the sense we expected. Our biggest problem was people being fascinated by us and so not having any privacy. A couple of times people were scared of us (white people have a bad reputation in some places) so they approached us in big groups or armed with machetes but as soon as they realised we were friendly, they visibly relaxed. But I’ll tell the rest of the stories in our blog 😉

        (sorry for the delay in replying I didn’t see that you had replied)

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